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WILLIAM OSLER 






A WAY OF LIFE 



A WAY OF LIFE 

An Address to Tale Students 
Sunday evening, April 2oth, 1913 



By 

WILLIAM OSLER 



LONDON 

CONSTABLE & COMPANY LTD. 
1913 



BJ 

/c 
o? 



608254 



What each day needs that 

shalt thou ask, 
Each day will set its proper 

task. 

Goethe. 



PELLOW STUDENTS- 

Every man has a philo 
sophy of life in thought, in 
word, or in deed, worked out 
in himself unconsciously. In 
possession of the very best, he 
may not know of its existence ; 
with the very worst he may 
pride himself as a paragon. As 
it grows with the growth it 
5 



A WAY 

cannot be taught to the young 
in formal lectures. What have 
bright eyes, red blood, quick 
breath and taut muscles to do 
with philosophy? Did not the 
great Stagirite say that young 
men were unfit students of it? 
they will hear as though they 
heard not, and to no profit. 
Why then should I trouble you ? 
Because I have a message that 
may be helpful. It is not philo 
sophical, nor is it strictly moral 
or religious, one or other of 
which I was told my address 
should be, and yet in a way it 
6 



OF LIFE 

is all three. It is the oldest and 
the freshest, the simplest and 
the most useful, so simple in 
deed is it that some of you may 
turn away disappointed as was 
Naaman the Syrian when told to 
go wash in Jordan and be clean. 
You know those composite tools, 
to be bought for 50 cents, with 
one handle to fit a score or more 
of instruments. The workman 
ship is usually bad, so bad, as 
a rule, that you will not find 
an example in any good car 
penter s shop; but the boy has 
one, the chauffeur slips one into 
7 



A WAY 

his box, and the sailor into his 
kit, and there is one in the odds- 
and-ends drawer of the pantry 
of every well-regulated family. 
It is simply a handy thing about 
the house, to help over the many 
little difficulties of the day. Of 
this sort of philosophy I wish 
to make you a present a handle 
to fit your life tools. Whether 
the workmanship is Sheffield or 
shoddy, this helve will fit any 
thing from a hatchet to a cork 
screw. 

My message is but a word, 
a Way, an easy expression of 
8 



OF LIFE 

the experience of a plain man 
whose life has never been wor 
ried by any philosophy higher 
than that of the shepherd in 
As You Like It I wish to point 
out a path in which the way 
faring man, though a fool, cannot 
err; not a system to be worked 
out painfully only to be dis 
carded, not a formal scheme, 
simply a habit as easy or as 
hard ! to adopt as any other 
habit, good or bad. 



A WAY 



I 

A few years ago a Xmas 
card went the rounds, with the 
legend " Life is just one denied 
thing after another," which, in 
more refined language, is the 
same as saying "Life is a 
habit," a succession of actions 
that become more or less auto 
matic. This great truth, which 
lies at the basis of all actions, 
muscular or psychic, is the key 
stone of the teaching of Aris 
totle, to whom the formation 
of habits was the basis of moral 

10 



OF LIFE 

excellence. "In a word, habits 
of any kind are the result 
of actions of the same kind ; 
and so what we have to do, 
is to give a certain character 
to these particular actions" 
(Ethics). Lift a seven months 
old baby to his feet see him 
tumble on his nose. Do the 
same at twelve months he 
walks. At two years he runs. 
The muscles and the nervous 
system have acquired the habit. 
One trial after another, one 
failure after another, has given 
him power. Put your finger 
ii 



A WAY 

in a baby s mouth, and he 
sucks away in blissful antici 
pation of a response to a mam 
malian habit millions of years 
old. And we can deliberately 
train parts of our body to per 
form complicated actions with 
unerring accuracy. Watch that 
musician playing a difficult 
piece. Batteries, commutators, 
multipliers, switches, wires in 
numerable control those nimble 
fingers, the machinery of which 
may be set in motion as auto 
matically as in a pianola, the 
player all the time chatting as 

12 



OF LIFE 

if he had nothing to do in con 
trolling the apparatus habit 
again, the gradual acquisition 
of power by long practice and 
at the expense of many mis 
takes. The same great law 
reaches through mental and 
moral states. " Character," which 
partakes of both, in Plutarch s 
words, is " long-standing habit." 
Now the way of life that I 
preach is a habit to be acquired 
gradually by long and steady 
repetition. It is the practice 
of living for the day only, 
and for the day s work, Life 
13 



A WAY 

in day-tight compartments. u Ah," 
I hear you say, "that is an 
easy matter, simple as Elisha s 
advice!" Not as I shall urge 
it, in words which fail to ex 
press the depth of my feelings 
as to its value. I started life 
in the best of all environments 
in a parsonage, one of nine 
children. A man who has filled 
Chairs in four universities, has 
written a successful book, and 
has been asked to lecture at 
Yale, is supposed popularly to 
have brains of a special quality. 
A few of my intimate friends 
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OF LIFE 

really know the truth about 
me, as I know it! Mine, in 
good faith I say it, are of the 
most mediocre character. But 
what about those professor 
ships, etc.? Just habit, a way 
of life, an outcome of the day s 
work, the vital importance of 
which I wish to impress upon 
you with all the force at my 
command. 

Dr. Johnson remarked upon 
the trifling circumstances by 
which men s lives are influenced, 
"not by an ascendant planet, a 
predominating humour, but by 
15 



A WAY 

the first book which they read, 
some early conversation which 
they have heard, or some acci 
dent which excited ardour and 
enthusiasm." This was my 
case in two particulars. I was 
diverted to the Trinity College 
School, then at Weston, On 
tario, by a paragraph in the 
circular stating that the senior 
boys would go into the drawing- 
room in the evenings, and learn 
to sing and dance vocal and 
pedal accomplishments for which 
I was never designed ; but like 
Saul seeking his asses, I found 
16 



OF LIFE 

something more valuable, a 
man of the White of Selborne 
type, who knew nature, and 
who knew how to get boys 
interested in it. 1 The other 
happened in the summer of 
1871, when I was attending the 
Montreal General Hospital. 
Much worried as to the future, 
partly about the final examina 
tion, partly as to what I should 
do afterwards, I picked up a 
volume of Carlyle, and on the 
page I opened there was the 

1 The Rev. W. A. Johnson, the founder 
of the school. 

B 17 



A WAY 

familiar sentence " Our main 
business is not to see what lies 
dimly at a distance, but to do 
what lies clearly at hand." A 
commonplace sentiment enough, 
but it hit and stuck and helped, 
and was the starting-point of a 
habit that has enabled me to 
utilize to the full the single 
talent entrusted to me. 



II 

The workers in Christ s vine 
yard were hired by the day; 
only for this day are we to ask 
18 



OF LIFE 

for our daily bread, and we are 
expressly bidden to take no 
thought for the morrow. To the 
modern world these commands 
have an Oriental savour, coun 
sels of perfection akin to certain 
of the Beatitudes, stimuli to 
aspiration, not to action. I am 
prepared on the contrary to 
urge the literal acceptance of 
the advice, not in the mood of 
Ecclesiastes " Go to now, ye 
that say to-day or to-morrow 
we will go into such a city, and 
continue there a year, and buy 
and sell and get gain ; whereas 
19 



A WAY 

ye know not what shall be on 
the morrow"; not in the 
Epicurean spirit of Omar with 
his "jug of wine and Thou," 
but in the modernist spirit, as 
a way of life, a habit, a strong 
enchantment, at once against 
the mysticism of the East and 
the pessimism that too easily 
besets us. Change that hard 
saying "Sufficient unto the day 
is the evil thereof" into "the 
goodness thereof," since the 
chief worries of life arise from 
the foolish habit of looking be 
fore and after. As a patient 
20 



OF LIFE 

with double vision from some 
transient unequal action of the 
muscles of the eye finds magical 
relief from well-adjusted glasses, 
so, returning to the clear bin 
ocular vision of to-day, the over 
anxious student finds peace 
when he looks neither back 
ward to the past nor forward 
to the future. 

I stood on the bridge of one of 
the great liners, ploughing the 
ocean at 25 knots. "She is 
alive," said my companion, "in 
every plate; a huge monster 
with brain and nerves, an 
21 



A WAY 

immense stomach, a wonderful 
heart and lungs, and a splendid 
system of locomotion." Just at 
that moment a signal sounded, 
and all over the ship the water 
tight compartments were closed. 
"Our chief factor of safety," 
said the Captain. "In spite of 
the Titanic," I said. "Yes," he 
replied, "in spite of the Titanic." 
Now each one of you is a much 
more marvellous organization 
than the great liner, and bound 
on a longer voyage. What I 
urge is that you so learn to 
control the machinery as to livt 

22 



OF LIFE 

with "day-tight compartments" 
as the most certain way to 
ensure safety on the voyage. 
Get on the bridge, and see that 
at least the great bulkheads are 
in working order. Touch a 
button and hear, at every level of 
your life, the iron doors shutting 
out the Past the dead yester 
days. Touch another and shut off, 
with a metal curtain, the Future 
the unborn to-morrows. Then you 
are safe, safe for to-day ! Read 
the old story in the Chambered 
Nautilus, so beautifully sung by 
Oliver Wendell Holmes, only 
23 



A WAY 

change one line to " Day after 
day beheld the silent toil." Shut 
off the past ! Let the dead past 
bury its dead. So easy to say, 
so hard to realize! The truth 
is, the past haunts us like a 
shadow. To disregard it is not 
easy. Those blue eyes of your 
grandmother, that weak chin of 
your grandfather, have mental 
and moral counterparts in your 
make-up. Generations of an 
cestors, brooding over "Pro 
vidence, Foreknowledge, Will 
and Fate Fixed fate, free will, 
foreknowledge, absolute," may 
24 



OF LIFE 

have bred a New England 
conscience, morbidly sensitive, 
to heal which some of you had 
rather sing the 5ist Psalm than 
follow Christ into the slums. 
Shut out the yesterdays, which 
have lighted fools the way to 
dusty death, and have no concern 
for you personally, that is, 
consciously. They are there all 
right, working daily in us, but so 
are our livers and our stomachs. 
And the past, in its unconscious 
action on our lives, should bother 
us as little as they do. The 
petty annoyances, the real and 
25 



A WAY 

fancied slights, the trivial 
mistakes, the disappointments, 
the sins, the sorrows, even the 
joys bury them deep in the 
oblivion of each night. Ah ! but 
it is just then that to so many of 
us the ghosts of the past, 

Night-riding Incubi 
Troubling the fantasy, 

come in troops, and pry open the 
eyelids, each one presenting a sin, 
a sorrow, a regret. Bad enough 
in the old and seasoned, in the 
young these demons of past sins 
may be a terrible affliction, and 
in bitterness of heart many a 
26 



OF LIFE 

one cries with Eugene Aram, 
11 Oh God ! Could I so close my 
mind, and clasp it with a clasp." 
As a vaccine against all morbid 
poisons left in the system by the 
infections of yesterday, I offer 
" a way of life." "Undress," as 
George Herbert says, "your 
soul at night," not by self- 
examination, but by shedding, as 
you do your garments, the daily 
sins whether of omission or of 
commission, and you will wake 
a free man, with a new life. To 
look back, except on rare 
occasions for stock-taking, is to 
27 



A WAY 

risk the fate of Lot s wife. 
Many a man is handicapped in 
his course by a cursed combina 
tion of retro- and intro-spection, 
the mistakes of yesterday para 
lysing the efforts of to-day, the 
worries of the past hugged to 
his destruction, and the worm 
Regret allowed to canker the 
very heart of his life. To die 
daily, after the manner of St. 
Paul, ensures the resurrection 
of a new man, who makes each 
day the epitome of a life. 



OF LIFE 



III 

The load of to-morrow, added 
to that of yesterday, carried 
to-day makes the strongest 
falter. Shut off the future as 
tightly as the past. No dreams, 
no visions, no delicious fantasies, 
no castles in the air, with which, 
as the old song so truly says, 
"hearts are broken, heads are 
turned." To youth, we are told, 
belongs the future, but the 
wretched to-morrow that so 
plagues some of us has no 
29 



A WAY 

certainty, except through to 
day. Who can tell what a day 
may bring forth? Though its 
uncertainty is a proverb, a man 
may carry its secret in the hollow 
of his hand. Make a pilgrimage 
to Hades with Ulysses, draw the 
magic circle, perform the rites, 
and then ask Tiresias the ques 
tion. I have had the answer 
from his own lips. The future 
is to-day, there is no to-morrow ! 
The day of a man s salvation is 
now the life of the present, of 
to-day, lived earnestly, intently, 
without a forward - looking 
30 



OF LIFE 

thought, is the only insurance 
for the future. Let the limit of 
your horizon be a twenty-four 
hour circle. On the title page 
of one of the great books of 
science, the Discours de la Methode 
of Descartes (1637) is a vignette 
showing a man digging in a 
garden with his face towards the 
earth, on which rays of light are 
streaming from the heavens; 
beneath is the legend "Fac et 
Spera. " Tis a good attitude and 
a good motto. Look heaven 
ward, if you wish, but never to 
the horizon that way danger 



A WAY 

lies. Truth is not there, happi 
ness is not there, certainty is not 
there, but the falsehoods, the 
frauds, the quackeries, the ignes 
fatui which have deceived each 
generation all beckon from the 
horizon, and lure the men not 
content to look for the truth 
and happiness that tumble out 
at their feet. Once while at 
College climb a mountain -top, 
and get a general outlook of the 
land, and make it the occasion 
perhaps of that careful examina 
tion of yourself, that inquisition 
which Descartes urges every 
32 



OF LIFE 

man to hold once in a lifetime, 
not oftener. 

Waste of energy, mental dis 
tress, nervous worries dog the 
steps of a man who is anxious 
about the future. Shut close, 
then, the great fore and aft bulk 
heads, and prepare to cultivate 
the habit of a life of Day-Tight 
Compartments. Do not be dis 
couraged, like every other 
habit, the acquisition takes time, 
and the way is one you must 
find for yourselves. I can only 
give general directions and 
encouragement, in the hope 
c 33 



A WAY 

that while the green years are 
on your heads, you may have 
the courage to persist. 



IV 

Now, for the day itself! What 
first ? Be your own daysman ! 
and sigh not with Job for any 
mysterious intermediary, but 
prepare to lay your own firm 
hand upon the helm. Get into 
touch with the finite, and grasp 
in full enjoyment that sense of 
capacity in a machine working 
smoothly. Join the whole crea- 
34 



OF LIFE 

tion of animate things in a deep, 
heartfelt joy that you are alive, 
that you see the sun, that you 
are in this glorious earth which 
nature has made so beautiful, 
and which is yours to conquer 
and to enjoy. Realise, in the 
words of Browning, that 
"There s a world of capability 
for joy spread round about us, 
meant for us, inviting us." 
What are the morning sensa 
tions ? for they control the day. 
Some of us are congenitally 
unhappy during the early hours ; 
but the young man who feels on 
35 



A WAY 

awakening that life is a burden 
or a bore has been neglecting 
his machine, driving it too hard, 
stoking the engines too much, 
or not cleaning out the ashes 
and clinkers. Or he has been 
too much with the Lady 
Nicotine, or fooling with Bac 
chus, or, worst of all, with the 
younger Aphrodite all "messen 
gers of strong prevailment in 
unhardened youth." To have a 
sweet outlook on life you must 
have a clean body. As I look on 
the clear-cut, alert, earnest 
features, and the lithe, active 
36 



OF LIFE 

forms of our college men, I 
sometimes wonder whether or 
not Socrates and Plato would 
find the race improved. I am 
sure they would love to look on 
such a gathering as this. Make 
their ideal yours the fair mind 
in the fair body. The one can 
not be sweet and clean without 
the other, and you must realise, 
with Rabbi Ben Ezra, the great 
truth that flesh and soul are 
mutually helpful. The morning 
outlook which really makes the 
day is largely a question of a 
clean machine of physical 
37 



A WAY 

morality in the wide sense of 
the term. "C est I estomac qui fait 
les heureux," as Voltaire says; 
no dyspeptic can have a sane 
outlook on life ; and a man 
whose bodily functions are im 
paired has a lowered moral resist 
ance. To keep the body fit is 
a help in keeping the mind pure, 
and the sensations of the first 
few hours of the day are the 
best test of its normal state. 
The clean tongue, the clear 
head, and the bright eye are 
birth-rights of each day. Just 
as the late Professor Marsh 
38 



OF LIFE 

would diagnose an unknown 
animal from a single bone, so 
can the day be predicted from the 
first waking hour. The start 
is everything, as you well know, 
and to make a good start you 
must feel fit. In the young, 
sensations of morning slackness 
come most often from lack of 
control of the two primal in 
stinctsbiologic habits the one 
concerned with the preservation 
of the individual, the other with 
the continuance of the species. 
Yale students should by this 
time be models of dietetic 
39 



A WAY 

propriety, but youth does not 
always reck the rede of the 
teacher; and I dare say that 
here, as elsewhere, careless 
habits of eating are responsible 
for much mental disability. My 
own rule of life has been to cut 
out unsparingly any article of 
diet that had the bad taste to 
disagree with me, or to indicate 
in any way that it had abused 
the temporary hospitality of the 
lodging which I had provided. 
To drink, nowadays, but few 
students become addicted, but in 
every large body of men a few are 
40 



OF LIFE 

to be found whose incapacity for 
the day results from the morning 
clogging of nocturnally-flushed 
tissues. As moderation is very 
hard to reach, and as it has been 
abundantly shown that the best 
of mental and physical work 
may be done without alcohol in 
any form, the safest rule for the 
young man is that which I am 
sure most of you follow abstin 
ence. A bitter enemy to the 
bright eye and the clear brain of 
the early morning is tobacco 
when smoked to excess, as it is 
now by a large majority of 



A WAY 

students. Watch it, test it, and 
if need be, control it. That 
befogged, woolly sensation reach 
ing from the forehead to the 
occiput, that haziness of 
memory, that cold fish-like eye, 
that furred tongue, and last 
week s taste in the mouth too 
many of you know them I 
know them they often come 
from too much tobacco. The 
other primal instinct is the 
heavy burden of the flesh which 
Nature puts on all of us to 
ensure a continuation of the 
species. To drive Plato s team 
42 



OF LIFE 

taxes the energies of the best of 
us. One of the horses is a rag 
ing, untamed devil, who can 
only be brought into subjection 
by hard fighting and severe 
training. This much you all 
know as men: once the bit is 
between his teeth the black 
steed Passion will take the 
white horse Reason with you 
and the chariot rattling over the 
rocks to perdition. 

With a fresh, sweet body you 

can start aright without those 

feelings of inertia that so often, 

as Goethe says, make the 

43 



A WAY 

morning s lazy leisure usher in 
a useless day. Control of the 
mind as a working machine, the 
adaptation in it of habit, so that 
its action becomes almost as 
automatic as walking, is the 
end of education and yet how 
rarely reached ! It can be accom 
plished with deliberation and re 
pose, never with hurry and worry. 
Realise how much time there is, 
how long the day is. Realise that 
you have sixteen waking hours, 
three or four of which at least 
should be devoted to making a 
silent conquest of your mental 
44 



OF LIFE 

machinery. Concentration, by 
which is grown gradually the 
power to wrestle successfully 
with any subject, is the secret of 
successful study. No mind 
however dull can escape the 
brightness that comes from 
steady application. There is an 
old saying, "Youth enjoy eth not, 
for haste " ; but worse than this, 
the failure to cultivate the power 
of peaceful concentration is the 
greatest single cause of mental 
breakdown. Plato pities the 
young man who started at such 
a pace that he never reached the 
45 



A WAY 

goal. One of the saddest of 
life s tragedies is the wreckage 
of the career of the young 
collegian by hurry, hustle, 
bustle and tension the human 
machine driven day and night, 
as no sensible fellow would use 
his motor. Listen to the words 
of a master in Israel, William 
James: "Neither the nature 
nor the amount of our work is 
accountable for the frequency 
and severity of our breakdowns, 
but their cause lies rather in 
those absurd feelings of hurry 
and having no time, in that 
46 



OF LIFE 

breathlessness and tension, that 
anxiety of feature and that 
solicitude of results, that lack 
of inner harmony and ease, in 
short, by which the work with 
us is apt to be accompanied, and 
from which a European who 
would do the same work would, 
nine out of ten times, be free." Es 
bi/det ein Talent sich in der Stifle, 
but it need not be for all day. A 
few hours out of the sixteen 
will suffice, only let them be 
hours of daily dedication in 
routine, in order and in system, 
and day by day you will gain in 
47 



A WAY 

power over the mental mechan 
ism, just as the child does over 
the spinal marrow in walking, or 
the musician over the nerve 
centres. Aristotle somewhere 
says that the student who wins 
out in the fight must be slow in 
his movements, with voice deep, 
and slow speech, and he will not 
be worried over trifles which 
make people speak in shrill 
tones and use rapid movements. 
Shut close in hour-tight com 
partments, with the mind direct 
ed intensely upon the subject in 
hand, you will acquire the 
48 



OF LIFE 

capacity to do more and more, 
you will get into training; and 
once the mental habit is estab 
lished, you are safe for life. 

Concentration is an art of 
slow acquisition, but little by 
little the mind is accustomed to 
habits of slow eating and care 
ful digestion, by which alone 
you escape the "mental dys- 
pepsy" so graphically described 
by Lowell in the Fable for Critics. 
Do not worry your brains about 
that bugbear Efficiency, which, 
sought consciously and with 
effort, is just one of those 
D 49 



A WAY 

elusive qualities very apt to 
be missed. The man s college 
output is never to be gauged 
at sight; all the world s coarse 
thumb and finger may fail to 
plumb his most effective work, 
the casting of the mental 
machinery of self-education, 
the true preparation for a field 
larger than the college campus. 
Four or five hours daily it is 
not much to ask ; but one day 
must tell another, one week 
certify another, one month bear 
witness to another of the same 
story, and you will acquire a 
50 



OF LIFE 

habit by which the one-talent 
man will earn a high interest, 
and by which the ten-talent 
man may at least save his 
capital. 

Steady work of this sort 
gives a man a sane outlook 
on the world. No corrective 
so valuable to the weariness, 
the fever and the fret that are 
so apt to wring the heart of 
the young. This is the talis 
man, as George Herbert says, 

The famous stone 
That turneth all to gold, 

and with which, to the eternally 



A WAY 

recurring question, What is Life? 
you answer, I do not think I 
act it; the only philosophy that 
brings you in contact with its 
real values and enables you to 
grasp its hidden meaning. Over 
the Slough of Despond, past 
Doubting Castle and Giant 
Despair, with this talisman you 
may reach the Delectable 
Mountains, and those Shep 
herds of the Mind Knowledge, 
Experience, Watchful and 
Sincere. Some of you may 
think this to be a miserable 
Epicurean doctrine no better 
52 



OF LIFE 

than that so sweetly sung by 
Horace : 

Happy the man and Happy he alone, 
He who can call to-day his own, 
He who secure within can say, 
To-morrow, do thy worst for I have 
lived to-day. 

I do not care what you think, 
I am simply giving you a philo 
sophy of life that I have found 
helpful in my work, useful in my 
play. Walt Whitman, whose 
physician I was for some years, 
never spoke to me much of his 
poems, though occasionally he 
would make a quotation ; but I 
remember late one summer 
53 



A WAY 

afternoon as we sat in the 
window of his little house in 
Camden there passed a group 
of workmen whom he greeted in 
his usual friendly way. And 
then he said : " Ah, the glory of 
the day s work, whether with 
hand or brain ! I have tried 

To exalt the present and the real, 
To teach the average man the glory of 
his daily work or trade." 

In this way of life each one 
of you may learn to drive the 
straight furrow and so come to 
the true measure of a man. 



54 



OF LIFE 



V 

With body and mind in train 
ing, what remains ? 

Do you remember that most 
touching of all incidents in 
Christ s ministry, when the 
anxious ruler Nicodemus came 
by night, worried lest the things 
that pertained to his everlasting 
peace were not a part of his 
busy and successful life ? Christ s 
message to him is His message 
to the world never more needed 
than at present : " Ye must be 
55 



A WAY 

born of the spirit." You wish to 
be with the leaders as Yale men 
it is your birthright know the 
great souls that make up the 
moral radium of the world. You 
must be born of their spirit, 
initiated into their fraternity, 
whether of the spiritually-minded 
followers of the Nazarene or 
of that larger company, elect 
from every nation, seen by St. 
John. 

Begin the day with Christ and 
His prayer you need no other. 
Creedless, with it you have re 
ligion; creed-stuffed, it will 
56 



OF LIFE 

leaven any theological dough in 
which you stick. As the soul is 
dyed by the thoughts, let no day 
pass without contact with the 
best literature of the world. 
Learn to know your Bible, 
though not perhaps as your 
fathers did. In forming char 
acter and in shaping conduct, its 
touch has still its ancient power. 
Of the kindred of Ram and sons 
of Elihu, you should know its 
beauties and its strength. Fif 
teen or twenty minutes day by 
day will give you fellowship with 
the great minds of the race, and 
57 



A WAY 

little by little as the years pass 
you extend your friendship with 
the immortal dead. They will 
give you faith in your own day. 
Listen while they speak to you 
of the fathers. But each age has 
its own spirit and ideas, just as it 
has its own manners and plea 
sures. You are right to believe 
that yours is the best University, 
at its best period. Why should 
you look back to be shocked at 
the frowsiness and dullness of 
the students of the seventies or 
even of the nineties? And cast 
no thought forward, lest you 
58 



OF LIFE 

reach a period when you and 
yours will present to your suc 
cessors the same dowdiness of 
clothes and times. But while 
change is the law, certain great 
ideas flow fresh through the 
ages, and control us effectually 
as in the days of Pericles. Man 
kind, it has been said, is always 
advancing, man is always the 
same. The love, hope, fear and 
faith that make humanity, and 
the elemental passions of the 
human heart, remain unchanged, 
and the secret of inspiration in 
any literature is the capacity to 
59 



A WAY 

touch the cord that vibrates in a 
sympathy that knows nor time 
nor place. 

The quiet life in day-tight com 
partments will help you to bear 
your own and others burdens 
with a light heart. Pay no heed 
to the Batrachians who sit croak 
ing idly by the stream. Life is 
a straight, plain business, and 
the way is clear, blazed for you 
by generations of strong men, 
into whose labours you enter 
and whose ideals must be your 
inspiration. In my mind s eye 
I can see you twenty years hence 
60 



OF LIFE 

resolute -eyed, broad - headed, 
smooth-faced men who are in the 
world to make a success of life ; 
but to whichever of the two great 
types you belong, whether con 
trolled by emotion or by reason, 
you will need the leaven of their 
spirit, the only leaven potent 
enough to avert that only too 
common Nemesis to which the 
Psalmist refers : " He gave them 
their heart s desire, but sent lean 
ness withal into their souls." 

I quoted Dr. Johnson s remark 
about the trivial things that in 
fluence. Perhaps this slight 
61 



A WAY OF LIFE 

word of mine may help some of 
you so to number your days that 
you may apply your hearts unto 
wisdom. 



WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON, LTD. 
PRINTERS, PLYMOUTH 



AEQUANIMITAS AND 
OTHER ESSAYS 

H. K. LEWIS, London, and 
KENNITH BLAKISTON, Philadelphia. 

AN ALABAMA 
STUDENT AND 
OTHER ESSAYS 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 
Oxford and New York. 

COUNSELS fcf IDEALS 
FROM THE WRITINGS 
OF WILLIAM OSLER 

Selected by DR. CARMAC. 

OXFORD PRESS, Oxford and New York. 

TEXT BOOK 
OF MEDICINE 

Eighth Edition, 1912. 
APPLETON &* Co., London and New York. 

MODERN MEDICINE- 

A SYSTEM Second Edition, in 5 vols. 

(With DR. McCRAE). 

LEA <& FKBIGER, Philadelphia. 



BY 

WILLIAM OSLER 

M.D., F.R.S., Regius Professor oj Medicine at 
Oxford. 

SCIENCE AND 
IMMORTALITY 

" We can recommend the volume not only 
for Its literary charm , but for the thought 
ful and suggestive discussion of the com 
forting conception of immortality from the 
standpoint of the scientific physician rather 
than from that of the philosopher or 
theologian. Professor Osier* s little book is 
worthy of him as a disciple of Sir Thomas 
Browne, and we can only hope that this, 
a modern Religio Medici, will be widely 
read and thoughtfully studied by both lay 
readers and medical readers" 

THE LANCET. 

EY THE SAME AUTHOR 

MAN S REDEMPTION 

OF MAN 

is. net each. Post free is. zd. each. 
CONSTABLE & CO. LTD., LONDON 



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